NHL Fans: Don’t Go Away Mad, Just Go Away

Don't go away mad, just go away

You’re an NHL fan. You spend your hard-earned money every year going to games. You buy merchandise. You subscribe to Centre Ice. You’ve been through one, maybe two lockouts, and even a strike if you’re really old. And now they’re threatening to make you go through yet another lockout.

This makes you mad.

So mad, in fact, that you’re willing to take action and show the world just how angry you are. And maybe, just maybe, your action combined with the actions of thousands of other outraged fans might even have an impact and a lockout will be avoided or at least shortened.

Well, you have every right to be outraged. But make no mistake, the angrier you get and the more you show it, the more you ensure the lockout goes on.

Think about it. Putting effort, energy and passion into showing your displeasure and trying to avoid a lockout just shows how passionate about NHL hockey you are. And if you’re passionate enough to take time out of your day to go and protest at the NHL offices or boycott NHL-related businesses, you’re sure as heck passionate enough to come back to the rink no matter how long the lockout lasts:

Take our money, please

And this is exactly what the owners are counting on. From their perspective, the NHL really does have the "world’s greatest fans:"

In the lockout-shortened season of 1994-95, each game averaged 50 more people in attendance compared with the previous season. The results were more impressive for the 2005-06 season, the first full year of hockey under the expiring CBA. The NHL reported a 2.4% increase in attendance over the 2003-04 season, and in the process, the league averaged a record 16,955 fans per contest. For the next three years, the NHL continued breaking its regular season attendance records.

Let that digest that for a second.

Need a Tums yet? You will.

A couple of weeks ago, @draglikepull put together a nice little summary estimating team-by-team ticket revenues, which added up to $1.2 billion. So if this lockout is anything like the last one, you the NHL fans, will flood back to the tune of about $30 million in additional ticket revenue. (Note: This is for illustrative purposes only. Past performance is not an indication of future results.)

So what’s an NHL fan to do when throwing a tantrum is actually counter-productive? Hopefully if you’ve read this far down, you’ll know the answer is not: "spend countless hours putting together a video with really nice production values based on the Howard Beale rant from the movie Network in the hopes of getting fans to unite to stop the lockout." I mean, nice sentiment, but shame about the facts:

Nice sentiment, shame about the facts

No, as Motley Crüe put it, "Don’t go away mad. Just go away." The owners are not going to be at all concerned about what you the fan thinks about the NHL as long as you’re still thinking about the NHL:

Apathy rules

So if you want to make a difference, go away. And I don’t mean go watch other forms of hockey like Juniors, the AHL or the NCAA. That’s like going on methadone. The owners know that once you get a sniff of the good stuff, you’ll be back mainlining it like, well, Motley Crüe in their heyday.

For real impact, go away to one of the other major league sports. Drive up the attendance of your local NFL, MLB and, god forbid, NBA team. Buy their merchandise. Subscribe to their cable, pay-per-view and online access packages. This you can do loudly.

Because, ultimately, the most likely way to end this lockout is to appeal to the owner’s greed:

The end of the NHL lockout

* You may wonder what this has to do with the NHL lockout ending, but rumour has it that Gary Bettman negotiated the rights to hold the Winter Classic in Hell should it ever freeze over. All it cost him was getting booed at every public appearance he ever makes. Small price to pay, in the overall scheme of things and just one more example of his shrewdness as a negotiator.

  • Wax Man Riley

    If you want to make a difference, don’t support the stations that gave the NHL $400M, and cancel your cable package. Watch the games online.

    Don’t buy merchandise. Unsubscribe from twitter feeds, unlike Facebook pages, and disconnect from the advertising on their websites (firefox, noScript, Adblocker).

    Don’t support the owner’s businesses (Rexall, Molson, Roger’s/Bell, Birchwood, etc…).

    I don’t know that this will get the season started sooner, but that is the only way to get back at those “greedy” owners.

  • Wax Man Riley

    Debbie Downer post, be warned:

    I love hockey. I really do. I am not a season ticket holder, but do regularly go to games. I went to 16 games last year, similarly the year before, bought playoff packages back in the playoff days, etc…

    I have played hockey for almost 30 years, starting on a team when I was just 4, and I still play. I LOVE HOCKEY.

    I have seen this type of post in blogs and hockey websites. BOYCOTT! SHOW THE OWNER WHAT YOU REALLY THINK! STOP GOING TO GAMES!

    The truth is, in Canada, people will always support hockey. I agree that in the States; Phoenix, Florida, Columbus, the lockout might damage the already fragile fanbase, but there aren’t really fans there to complain in the first place.

    I’m sorry, but I think organizing rallies (Fire MacT???) and signing petitions for an entertainment business making internal decisions that really don’t affect your everyday life is stupid.

    If you want to do something productive and meaningful, try something like getting Fluoride out of our drinking water, or reforming our electoral process to something that reflects the Canadian majority.

    Let the entertainers worry about the entertainment. Hockey is a game, and I want the season to start in October like everyone else, but having people sign online petitions, or stand in front of league offices will do nothing to affect the millionaires/billionaires decisions. Not having a season means there is nothing to boycott.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      i agree, to an extent.

      in my perfect little world, i am hopeful that somehow, someway, it is organized so that the first game of this season is played in empty barns all over the league.

      just 1 game…

      though, as a disclaimer, my perfect little world also involves midgets dancing around a chocolate fountain..

      • Wax Man Riley

        You know, I would love to see that 1 game as well…or… not see it. You know what I mean. That would really be a slap in the face for both the owners and the players.

    • Graphic Comments

      Clearly I wasn’t clear. :p But that’s pretty much what I’m saying. None of these actions work or will ever work.

      My suggestion to spend your money elsewhere was mostly tongue in cheek and completely unrealistic. But if you really wanted to do something, better that than protesting at the NHL store. Cuz if you spend your sports dollar elsewhere, you won’t be tempted to go back when the lockout ends.

      But yeah, by all means spend your time on way more worthy causes!

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    Good read.

    I bitched and screamed about never watching hockey again during the last two lockouts,. But the reality is, as soon as I see the first Nuge to Eberle one timer hi-lite, I’m a fan again.

    Hockey for me is that girl that totally abuses and treats you like crap but you can’t give her up cause she’s amazing in the sack.

  • OilLeak

    Uh no. Hockey is like crack and nothing really replaces it for me.

    More studying? Nope.

    More exercise? This works, but dealing with several injuries that will take a few months to heal, so nope.

    More video games or tv? Not really, works for a short time, but doesn’t really satiate my appetite for hockey.

    I really hope that season isn’t canceled but I’ll probably tune into the OKC barons especially if Hall++ are playing there during the lockout.

  • vetinari

    To borrow a turn-of-phrase from baseball, given that this is likely to be Bettman’s third strike, is he out? [Don’t bother answering that question: I know the owners love him]

    I think the only way that there will be hockey before December is for the PA to come out and say, “if no deal is done by the end of November, all our players will go oversees and not reopen negotiations with you until next June”.

    The other alternative would be for the players to decertify, make all unsigned players and prospects UFA’s, and form a WHA style league… THAT would get the oner’s attention.

  • Reidja

    I completely agree with this thesis. Not only for my sanity but also because I am trying to personally come to terms with a world without hockey…

    I know, I know, I keep reading FlamesNation everyday, was raised by Ed Whalen and all that… but I am toying with the thought of placing my disposable sports income elsewhere. I am building-up my hockey apathy bit by bit.

    Up with apathy!

  • Graphic Comments

    As much as your right, im sure the last thing the owners want is the play-by-play announcers being drowned out by chants about their commissioner during a national broadcast. Plus it would be just as fun as making fun of him!

  • Graphic Comments

    It does not matter what Canadian clubs do , as there are plenty of additional fans that will pay when a settlement is done . The Canadian addiction . Same cannot be said of U.S. based teams , however . Bettman lockout this time could hold many disappointments , and loss in team and league revenues for a forseable length of time considering the spinoff elements effected . Their market is bigger than they can accommodate in a lot of areas but dwindling none the less as more decide to use monies elsewhere for entertainment . Not like hockey is that big in States to begin with , considering other major sports they prefer with interest .

    The ” show must go on” despite lack of a ratified ageement , simply because the old one in effect was/is working , and it just takes the owners to correct their own indiscretions – not the players fault nor should they be the ones to pay to have to fix it and keep them inline .

  • Wax Man Riley

    I think its time we as hockey fans all across the league unite and chant “FIRE BETTMAN” at every game and in every arena until he’s far far removed from the sport of hockey… it worked for Leaf fans when they wanted Wilson gone right!?

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      wow so everyone on here seems to be siding with the NHLPA from the sounds of it. Can’t agree with you. Let me put things in a different perspective.

      The CBA negotiations are like a bad divorce. For a group of 30 divorcee’s the agreement stands as the following.

      – From here on in and the foreseeable future you will pay your ex-wife/husband 57% of your total income.

      – From your 43% you will pay for your ex-wife’s/Husband’s house including utility bills, maintenance and Renovations when required(Stadium, locker room etc.), Vehicle (transportation for away games), and Vacations (Hotels and equipment transport for away games)

      – It is likely that you and approx. half the divorcee’s are losing small to large sums of money every year with the exception of a few that are loaded, but is it their responsibility to make sure your financials are up to par by giving you some of their wealth?

      Re-negotiations go nowhere because the ex’s are happy with the amount they get from you regardless of your situation and don’t seem willing to come to any compromises in the agreement.

      Does this sound like an acceptable agreement to you?

      • G Money

        He locked out in ’94, cancelled the season in 2005, and now this!?! Negotiate during the season! Dead puck era?! Headshots?! Empty arenas?!

        He’s had his chance to win my heart, im ready to move on.

        A fire FIRE BETTMAN chant = music to my ears!

          • justDOit

            Well actually, labor is quite often the biggest cost to a business. What dictates success is how much revenue is left over in profit, and this is highly debatable in the NHL. The ‘books’ are often criticized as being inaccurate, or at the very least, the numbers are open to interpretation.

            What I don’t see as debatable, is the position the owners are in. Sure, the PA has a lot of power, in that without the players there is no HRR.

            I see as the NHL’s main advantage being leverage. The rich owners/teams can afford to take a year off and use their arenas for more events and concerts. The break-even teams don’t really suffer if they have to close their doors either, and the money losing teams actually win when they don’t play hockey (hello Glendale city council).

            The players didn’t want the current CBA because it contained a salary cap. But what the cap actually did for the players, is level off the Sakic and Fedorov contracts of $14M – $16M with the rollback and cap, and bring up the salaries of the other players with a salary floor. Sure the 24% rollback hurt them all, but at the end of this CBA, we’ve now got salaries back up into the $12M – $14M range again. Middling players are getting $3M – $4M contracts, and the league minimum is near $1M. Please tell me how the players have suffered under this CBA.

            No, I’m not against unions – quite the opposite. But if I had received salary increases over the last five years like the NHL salary cap has experienced, I’d be more than a little willing to take a 15% cut to keep things going.

          • paul wodehouse

            You’re missing the part where the ex has to work for you and is the main reason you make anything in the first place.

            As for a business paying their employees more than they make, well, that’s not what’s happening. They are paying the employees more than half of what the company makes. I think there are a lot of companies where the salaries of the employees make up more than half of the costs for the company. In fact, I’d guess that any company with highly skilled workers is paying over half of their net income to their employees. The players aren’t asking for 107%.

          • G Money

            Not sure I follow your math.

            For lots of high-tech companies, labour is indeed their largest cost by far. For example, I ran a very successful software company (250 employees, $80M revenue, $35M profit). Employee costs made up 70% of our overall costs.

            The math looked like this:

            Revenue = $80M
            Costs = $55M
            Profit = $35M
            Employee costs = 70% x $55M = $38.5
            Non employee costs = $16.5
            Employee costs as a % of revenue = 38.5/80 = 48%

            In the hockey situation, player costs are making up 57% of the revenue. The equivalent numbers for my company, all else being equal, would be:

            Revenue = $80M
            Costs = $45.6 employee costs (57% of revenue) + $16.5 non emp = $62.1
            Profit = $17.9

            Notice that in the first case, employee costs were already higher than the profits. In the hockey equivalent case, employee costs are now more than double the profit.

            Whatever the hockey situation is, I can guarantee that most teams are not that profitable on a percentage basis.

            The players should accept that 50% of HRR is not only fair, it is bloody generous and take the deal. There are a hell of a lot more hockey players out there willing to play the game for money than there are billionaires willing to subsidize those players.

          • @S_2_H

            First off if they don’t want to work in the NHL thats perfectly fine there are many willing to take their spot and I’m sure the fans wouldn’t be hurt by it.

            Second no company goes out of their way and says before the year even starts that the employees are getting 57% of whatever they make this year. They pay them Salaries and hourly wages and after that its up to the buisness to run properly if they want higher profits. Not to mention if your employees don’t live up to their pay you can fire them.

    • Graphic Comments

      Bettman is doing exactly what Snider and Jacobs want him to do. He’s not getting fired no matter how much anyone outside the NHL BoG rants and raves.

      Plus, for purely selfish reasons, I like having him around. He’s easy to make fun of. :p